Welcome to the All-Star break gang – the unofficial beginning of the second half signals the time to reorganize, revamp, and re-think approaches for us, as well as the folks making the calls for your favorite MLB teams. And, coincidentally, it also marks the time for me to revisit my Prospect Rankings. These are the current top-50 guys on my board that haven’t accumulated the standard minimum 130 AB/50 IP at the MLB level that most fantasy leagues recognize. When compiling my rankings, I try to consider as many variables as possible, but my main focus tilts toward future “difference-makers”… those guys that have the potential to make significant impacts when they reach “The Show”. Some players you’ll find on this list may be further away from making that impact than others, some may be struggling a bit right now (they may have been recently promoted to the next level to challenge them and are adjusting to stiffer competition), some may be on the shelf because of injury, etc., but this list represents the top-50 players I’d pick if you give me the first 50 picks in the MiLB phase of a draft in a newly forming fantasy league. These are the prospects GMs “dream on”, regardless of their current minor league level – the players they plan to build their rosters around at some point in the near future.

So here we go…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

David Dahl | OF, Rockies | Born:  4/1/1994

Background

The Rockies drafted Dahl 10th overall in 2012 out of high school. The lofty draft status was warranted — Dahl’s raw tools had baseball folks tabbing his upside among the highest in the class. His pro debut only reaffirmed his touters, as the 18-year-old’s impact was profound from the moment he stepped on the diamond at Grand Junction for his rookie-level assignment. Through 67 games that year, Dahl posted a line at .379/.423/.625 with 9 HR and 12 SB, earning the Pioneer League MVP. Naturally, he entered 2013 with enormous expectations. But after a curious misjudgment to begin the season brought fourth character concerns, and then a subsequent hamstring injury ended his season early, Dahl faded somewhat from the prospect spotlight.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In his first plate appearance of spring training, a big league camp AB versus David Phelps, Gregory Polanco turned on a breaking pitch, sending it over the right field wall. Such things happen to 22-year-olds during spring training, and most of the time, they’re anomalies. In Polanco’s case, however, that moment, in retrospect, seems profound — a statement as to his readiness to produce at the highest level from the instant he stepped on a diamond this spring. Reassigned to Triple-A to begin the season, Polanco’s statements have only grown louder. Through 92 PA, he’s hitting .417/.467/.679 with 4 HR and 4 SB, making him the best mixed league stash in the minors. The Bucs have been fortunate thus far to squeeze some production out of their Travis Snyder/Jose Tabata platoon, but the upside with Polanco is unquestionably higher and it’s only a matter of time before Pittsburgh slots him into their lineup as the everyday RF. His incredible start at Indianapolis should allow him to segue into big league ball with a shizzload of confidence.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The early stages of the MiLB season have brought loads of speculation with regard to Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty, and which prospect the Cardinals will summon to St. Louis first. I’d love to be able to provide some clarity to that question, but frankly, such call-ups depend on so many different proprietary factors, and it’d be pretty stupid of me say something like, “Piscotty is gonna be the guy ’cause he’s hitting a bunch of singles at Triple-A.”  Piscotty, by the way, has collected 15 hits (12 singles) through his first 37 AB at Memphis.  He’s a fine prospect, and he’s zoned in right now, but the gaudy average (.405) is probably drawing a bit more attention than it should.  Meanwhile, Taveras is slugging north of .500.  He’s still the higher-impact fantasy talent, and he’s still the better prospect.  This is not to suggest that Oscar will definitely be up before Piscotty — only that it’d be silly to lose perspective on the situation.  Taveras is the true prize.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (21) | 2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10) | 2009 (20)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [74-88] NL West
AAA: [67-76] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs
AA: [68-70] Texas League — Tulsa
A+: [75-65] California League – Modesto
A: [63-73] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [34-42] Northwest League — Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
Nolan Arenado (3B); Corey Dickerson (OF)

The Run Down
I must admit, I’m quite impressed with this Rockies farm, and after writing a thousand or so words on its best and brightest prospects, I’m in need of cigarette and a shower. Don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t a top tier organization, but from the perspective of upside and potential fantasy impact, this Rockies org isn’t far behind the powerhouse systems of the Twins, Cubs, Astros, and Cardinals. Pitching headlines this group — Jonathan Gray brings a Gerrit Cole-type projection, and Eddie Butler could be the Michael Wacha of 2014. The seven hitters that follow Gray and Butler all bring considerable offensive tools and big fantasy ceilings, themselves. Sure, there’s plenty of risk with this group, but you gotta admire this collection of raw talent.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Quite a bit has changed since the 2013 MiLB season began in April, and folks have been clamoring for a mid-season prospect list. Well, here it is, 50-deep. But before we get into it, a quick primer on the criteria for this top 50: There was no specific timetable considered, so the rankings below can be considered a dynasty league list. You’ll notice that the ETA’s here range from this season all the way to 2016. To prevent any overlap with lists that Grey and JayWrong put together last week, I’ve included only prospects who are currently in the minor leagues. That means I had to remove Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick from the board after news of their call-ups — Yelich was #7, Marisnick #40. It also means I couldn’t list Carlos Martinez, who’s currently working in relief for the Cardinals — he would’ve been ranked right around #20.

Anyway, I’ll be writing notes on all of these fellas during the off-season, once the dust has settled on the 2013 season and I’ve had a chance to take a more thorough look at depth charts, injuries, etc. For now, I’ve included only a few pertinent details: age, current level, fantasy impact categories, and ETA. Each player is linked to his player card on Baseball-Reference.com, or his Razzball player card where possible. My hope is that this list will help dynasty leaguers sort out their rosters as keeper deadlines approach. Enjoy.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Bear with me for a moment while I venture outside stateside baseball for a look at a marvelous moment in Korean pro ball. The always great Ben Badler of Baseball America brought this clip to my attention this past Wednesday, and you really gotta give this one a look. Outfielder Jun-Woo Jeon is the batter. His team is down two runs with a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the ninth. He recognizes the fat breaker, turns on it, and lifts it to left field. He thinks it’s gone and the game tied, so he flips his bat triumphantly and does one of those cool jogging finger points toward his dugout. It’s not gone. No, the ball dies at the track, and not long after, the opposition dies of laughter. This is why you never bat flip. #Scouting.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10) | 2009 (20) | 2008 (7)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [64-98] NL West
AAA: [75-69] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs
AA: [75-64] Texas League — Tulsa
A+: [73-67] California League – Modesto
A: [88-52] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [32-44] Northwest League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League PlayersSalt River Rafters
Isaiah Froneberger (LHP); Cory Riordan (RHP); Lars Davis (C); Jose Gonzalez (C); Corey Dickerson (OF); Kent Matthes (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Jordan Pacheco (1B); Wilin Rosario (C); Josh Rutledge (SS); D.J. LeMahieu (2B); Charlie Blackmon (OF); Drew Pomeranz (LHP); Christian Friedrich (LHP); Adam Ottavino (RHP); Rex Brothers (LHP)

The Run Down
It’s difficult not to swoon at the fantasy upside of various bats in this Rockies system. Every hitter on this list brings a ceiling that’s hard to measure based on MiLB figures, alone. That’s what makes the top three guys so exciting — their potential would be impressive in any system, but throw Coors Field into the equation, and the intrigue swells substantially. On the flip side, the arms of the Colorado system carry the stigma of being future Coors Field pitchers. Their intrigue, conversely, is shrunk by the stadium at which they’re bound to play. But ballpark factors aside, Colorado has put together a farm system with plenty of depth and plenty of hope. No one here is to be ignored, so do keep an eye on these names as the 2013 season gets underway.

Please, blog, may I have some more?